Pro bono publico (“for the public good,” and usually shortened to pro bono) is a Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. The attorneys of Dowd Scheffel are committed to pro bono representation. We recognize that we can use our talents as skilled appellate and trial attorneys to help individuals who may not be able to afford sophisticated legal representation. We are committed to volunteering our talents to deserving individuals and causes, particularly when the cases involve complex and novel legal issues.
Currently, Mr. Dowd is the Regional Director for Team Posner, a group organized by Judge Richard A. Posner (ret.) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Since retiring from the bench, Judge Posner has focused his efforts on improving how courts deal with pro se litigants.
American Legion v. American Humanist Association, No. 17-17-17 (S. Ct. 2018). Dowd Scheffel filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in a case concerning a World War I memorial. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the memorial, known as the Bladensburg Peace Cross and standing for more than 90 years, must be removed because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Military Order of the Purple Heart's amicus brief supports the petitioners' request to have the Supreme Court accept the case for review. The amicus brief is available here.
Bond v. United States, No. 17-2150 (4th Cir. filed Sept. 29, 2017). Mr. Dowd is currently working with Judge Richard Posner (ret.) as pro bono counsel on an appeal that concerns allegations of First Amendment and due process violations. The case is currently pending before the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Dowd drafted the opening appeal brief with Judge Posner, and the media reports have described the brief as "powerful" and "incisive." The case has been profiled in the news here.
White v. United States, 146 A.3d 101 (D.C. 2016). As pro bono counsel, Matt successfully briefed and argued an appeal for an inmate who had pleaded guilty based on misinformation about his eligibility for parole. During the plea hearing, the trial judge provided incorrect dates about when he would be eligible for parole if he pleaded guilty. This appeal victory was highlighted by the D.C. Public Defender Service here. (Opinion link.)
Letter to State Department Concerning Genocide. Matt led a team of lawyers who drafted an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry encouraging the State Department to declare that a genocide is taking place against Christians in Iraq. The open letter received significant media coverage and was part of a larger, successful campaign that resulted in only the second official declaration by the State Department of an ongoing genocide in United States history. The letter can be read here, and additional coverage is here.
American Atheists, Inc. v. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, 760 F.3d 227 (2d Cir. 2014). Matt represented a Roman Catholic priest in the Ground Zero Cross litigation. In this case, the plaintiffs had sued, based on First Amendment grounds, to keep the Ground Zero Cross out of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. During the proceeding, Matt successfully moved to quash an improper third-party subpoena. Matt was also lead counsel and primary author of an amicus brief filed on behalf of Fr. Jordan in the appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Matt was quoted in the New York Daily News, Washington Times, and Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. Read the Second Circuit's opinion here.
Cohen v. Shinseki, No. 11-0945 (CAVC Jan. 3, 2013). Mr. Dowd was lead appellate counsel for a World War II veteran who was seriously injured twice in combat, once at the Battle of the Bulge, earning the Purple Heart with Oak Cluster and three Bronze Battle Stars. Mr. Dowd successfully briefed the appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Capital Pride. Mr. Dowd counseled the Washington D.C.-based non-profit group Capital Pride on a trademark matter regarding its talent Pride Idol competition for its annual LGBTQ festival.